Time trials are all about “leaving everything on the road.” You want to pace yourself so that you hit the finish line with nothing left in the gas tank. Many strategies for achieving this have been proposed in the scientific literature. The other question to ask is what the effects of ability are on pacing strategy, and whether such strategy is ingrained or learned.
While the “work hard play hard” philosophy may be a great approach to striking a work-life balance, the motto cyclists and all athletes should subscribe to leans more towards a “work hard rest harder” philosophy. Many recovery modalities have been suggested and adopted, but how well do they work for recovering between hard training bouts?
Time trials will always be the race of truth, where you cannot hide in a pack and your fitness and willingness to suffer is there for all to see. While fitness remains paramount, the smart racer will still be at an advantage if they can figure out the optimal and most efficient way of putting that power to the pedals and onto the road…
December. Cold, wet, sometimes miserable; sounds like the perfect time to start building fitness towards next season! Everyone you ask has an idea, belief, or argument as to what training approach is best, but what are you going to do to maximize your gains in these first early weeks and months?
Every spring it happens. After a winter of mostly solo rides either commuting or indoors on the trainer doing intervals, the first few group rides of the year are just brutal reawakenings to the realities of the highly variable nature of racing. What are the neuromuscular differences, if any, between hard constant efforts and group races?
40+ Guys like Chris Horner and Jens Voigt, along with many riders in their mid- to late-30s, are continuing to tear up the pro circuit. While age inevitably does catch up with all of us, how do we fare in cycling performance over the years?
Much of our training is done solo – that’s the nature of our busy lives, but also our obsession to “optimize” our training by doing our workouts perfectly. That’s fine up to a point, but are we always giving ourselves the best training by going it alone and ignoring the thrill of informal or formal competition?
The intent of this week’s Toolbox is two-fold. As always, the primary goal is to explore an interesting scientific question. In this case, can you predict ultimate success in cycling based on test scores? Secondly, it is to honour Pez-friend Dr. Aldo Sassi and to wish him the best in his health battles.
Post-Tour, the pros are decompressing from an immense physical and mental pressure cooker. Other pros are starting their late summer peak, while many of us are aiming to eke out a last bit of fitness before the fall begins. So it’s a great time to keep our focus on fatigue. This month, let’s see if there’s any way to protect ourselves from fatigue and performance impairment…
After a few years of gaining a gradual foothold in the pro peloton, non-round chainrings have gone big-time, first as unbranded chainrings for Carlos Sastre’s 2008 Tour win, and now as a major sponsor for the Cervelo TestTeam. True to its Spanish roots, a new study from a Spanish research group investigates their efficacy.
Over the past decade, non-round chainrings have made big inroads in the pro peloton and in the mass cycling market, led by Rotor and O-symetric. Given the complex muscular coordination required by pedaling, the theory of non-round chainrings of facilitating a smoother pedaling stroke can make sense, but what does scientific testing tell us about their performance?
Carbohydrates are known to be an important fuel for peak cycling performance. It’s the preferred fuel for the high-intensity efforts, and its availability is often seen as a limiter for performance. Carbohydrate drinks are therefore often used to deliver both fluids and energy during cycling, but can carbohydrates serve as a special ergogenic aid by tricking you into riding harder?
Cyclocross season is steadily progressing from the early season of warm and dry race days to the downright miserable and ugly weather that define the sport. With such nastiness, the temptation may be to skip the warmup and just hammer off the start line. Does a warmup really gain you a concrete advantage, and what type of warm-up might be best?
For amateur cyclists, one of the best reasons for cycling is the big appetite you can satisfy after a big ride. For pros, eating can be just as much a part of the job as the hours on the bike itself. We all know that part of proper recovery involves the right nutrition after a workout, but what factors affect post-exercise appetite and how might it impact recovery and weight control?
Cycling is, at its most basic, about pedaling, though its rhythmic nature belies the complexity required to do it well. If you think of pedaling as the mere act of following the crank through a full rotation then you are missing both the art and some key elements that can improve performance. Let’s look at some of the factors that contribute to pedaling well.
Surely you’ve heard riders comment that they are “tapering” their training for an upcoming marquee event. Typically it takes some form of the following “yea, I would have gone harder today but I’m tapering for Tuesday night worlds/Saturdays group ride/Cascade Classic, etc.” The reality is that riding easy for a couple of days before a big event isn’t really a taper; it’s more of a small rest in the hope of a good performance.
If music is the soundtrack of our lives, it is also the lifesaver for indoor training. While everybody grooves to their own drummer, is there an actual ergogenic effect from playing music during intense efforts? And what can studying music and exercise tell us about how we psychologically cope with intense efforts?
Cycling is a big business and pro cyclists are rolling billboards for their sponsors. However, to a sport scientist or a discerning coach or athlete, top cyclists are also rolling labs on two wheels. That is, by analyzing their training and racing data, we can gain valuable insight into what contributes to their elite performance.
Whether training or stage racing, recovery is the name of the game. Many tools and tricks have been used to maximize recovery, including the chilly prospect of cold-water immersion. Does a post-ride dip really help with cycling recovery?
It may not be the hottest Tour on record, but summertime involves lots of miles in hot and sometimes steamy conditions. Hydration advice for athletes has lowered dramatically over the past decade, but doubts remain about the ability of individual thirst patterns to sufficiently combat dehydration and potentially impaired performance. So can athletes maintain hydration status without being forced to constantly drink?